Court reserves verdict on Bachchan-related petition

An Allahabad High Court bench here Tuesday reserved its verdict on a petition questioning the state chief information commissioner's (CIC) decision to dismiss a complaint against superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

A two-judge division bench comprising Justice U.K. Dhaon and Justice S.S. Chauhan decided to reserve their order.

The petition relates to Bachchan's proclamation during the rule of former chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav that Uttar Pradesh was a state with few incidents of crime.

Moved by a Ghazipur-based social activist Brij Bhushan Dubey, the petition questioned the decision of CIC Justice M.A. Khan to dismiss a complaint against Bachchan for the proclamation.

Bachchan's statement - "UP mein hai dum, kyukni yahan jurm hain kum" - which was frequently used as part of the Mulayam Singh government's campaign in 2006 - had earlier come in for scrutiny before the state information commission.

Through a notice issued to the star, whose proximity to Mulayam Singh's Samajwadi Party is no secret, the CIC had initially sought his reply failing which Bachchan was asked to make a personal appearance Oct 15.

But the superstar did not comply with the directive. Instead, a lawyer sent a fax to the CIC questioning the jurisdiction of the information commissioner over Bachchan who was not a government servant. That's when the CIC dismissed the petition.

However, Dubey moved a writ petition before the high court and sought to point out that in his capacity as member of the Uttar Pradesh Development Council, he had held an office of profit and was therefore answerable to the information commission.

The now dissolved development council was a body constituted by chief minister Mulayam Singh with party leader Amar Singh as its head. Bachchan and some Mumbai-based industrialists enjoying close proximity to Amar Singh were given the pseudonym of "Amar Singh Club".

Arguing on behalf of the petitioner, senior lawyer C.B. Pandey said, "As of now I have simply questioned the manner in which the CIC chose to take note of a fax, which was not permissible under law."

He said, "The lawyer has neither attached any power of attorney from Amitabh Bachchan nor any application signed by the film star; I therefore asked the court if some special extra-judicial concession was being made to Bachchan."

Referring to Bachchan's assertion in the advertisement that his proclamation was based on the basis of a central government report, a seven-point questionnaire submitted by the petitioner sought to know from Bachchan the details of such a report.

Besides asking Bachchan to submit a copy of the official report that he was citing, the petitioner also sought to know the remuneration received by Bachchan from the Uttar Pradesh government.

Indo-Asian News Service